The Biologic Basis of Bipolar Disorder

Table of Contents

Five mini-chapters on the brain chemistry of mania and depression
(updated 12/2014)

At this point, treatment of bipolar disorder is roughly equivalent to when diabetes was treated without insulin. We do not know the fundamental cause and cannot therefore target our treatments accordingly.

However, our understanding is growing very quickly.  I used to hope that a Nobel prize would be awarded someday to someone who made the key discovery.  But it now appears that the tapestry of manic symptoms is extremely complex.  Many threads have been identified, and they are just beginning to come together.  Even if no single researcher wins a Nobel, small breakthroughs seem to be coming more and more rapidly. This is a very exciting time in the history of bipolar understanding.

  • Chapter 1: the genetic basis of bipolar disorder
  • Chapter 2: Brain differences in bipolar disorder
  • Chapter 3: The central role of the biological clock
  • Chapter 4: The biologic basis of depression
  • Chapter 5: There must be some evolutionary advantage?

Note that the biologic basis of depression is described in a separate section on this website.

The R-Complex

The R-complex:  Basal Ganglia and Thalamus When you have finished this Tour, you will have a simple understanding of the parts in this picture: These

Read More »

Brain Tours: Fear

The anatomy of fear When you are afraid, you are likely to have: worried thoughts; and physical sensations like a faster heart rate, sweating, increased

Read More »

The Human Cortex

Imagine your friend Cindy stands in front of you looking to her right, so that you can look directly at her left ear. And imagine

Read More »

Get Smarter About Mental Health

Our Brain Bulletin decodes mental health updates for you.

It’s free.